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Iraq Report: Second Surge Sinks

10:31 AM, May 23, 2007 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Yesterday was a relatively slow news day in Iraq. While Coalition and Iraqi forces continue to target al Qaeda and other insurgent networks, al Qaeda conducted a mass casualty suicide attack inside the capital--the first large scale suicide bombing since May 11. But the big "story" came from the San Francisco Chronicle, which claimed that a "second surge" is occurring in Iraq with the aim of doubling the number of U.S. combat troops on the ground by the end of this year.

The Chronicle's claim rests on a poor understanding of the process by which American troops are rotated into and out of Iraq. Combat units on the ground do not just abandon their posts, but wait until their relief arrives in theater. This overlap in forces has occurred several times since the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also, as units have had their tours extended, the timetable for forces arriving in theater has not been pushed back. It should be noted that all Army combat deployments--both in Iraq and Afghanistan--have been extended from 12 to 15 months. The claim that a second, secret surge is occurring is inaccurate at best.

Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to keep up the pressure on al Qaeda. Raids yesterday in Baghdad, Mosul, Karma, and Fallujah led to the capture of three cell leaders and nine associates. Operations in Mosul and Anbar province earlier today resulted in another 15 captured, including two cell leaders. Iraqi Special Forces captured 16 al Qaeda during raids in Samarra on Sunday.

Coalition forces rescued five kidnapped Iraqis, including a young boy "who had been kidnapped and severely beaten with chains, cables and hoses," noted an Multinational Forces Iraq press release. The Iraqis were being held in the city of Karma in Anbar province, where al Qaeda has put up stiff resistance to Coalition forces. "The four captives also showed signs of torture, and the boy stated the terrorists had hooked electrical wires to his tongue and shocked him." This raid led to the rescue of 12 more Iraqis held captive near Karma. Nine terrorists were killed and three captured during those operations.

In Baghdad, al Qaeda in Iraq has conducted its first high profile bombing in over a week. Twenty-five Iraqis were killed and another 60 wounded during a bombing in the Amil neighborhood in Baghdad's Bayaa district. This was the first big strike inside Baghdad since May 11, when bridges were struck on the outskirts of the city. In Diyala province, "militants" murdered an Iraqi family at a false checkpoint near Baqubah. The entire family was killed--the mother, father, an infant, and three children.